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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, April 17, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 20:11–18             

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord;” and she told them that he had said these things to her. (NRSV)

Mary, in deep grief, went to the tomb where Jesus had been laid after his death. She expected his body to be there. When it wasn’t, she wept, distraught because she didn’t know where to find him. When she saw who she thought was the gardener, she asked where he had carried Jesus. The gardener was, in fact, the risen Christ.

Did she not recognize him because he was in a changed form? Or because her expectations of finding him dead blinded her? In Mary’s day, people did have a notion that God can raise people from the dead. But resurrection was not something she was looking for with Jesus. How easy it is for us not to see that for which we are not looking or expecting.

It was when Jesus spoke her name that she realized it was he. It was his personal calling to her—”Mary!”—that awakened her, breaking through her grief and narrowed mindset. It was his revealing that he knew her intimately that unlocked her recognition of him. Isn’t that true for us all?

We don’t really know the form that resurrection takes. We don’t know where to look for the risen Christ. But yet we believe and follow him, because somewhere in our life we heard his voice calling us by our name, personally, and inviting us to be his friend, his follower, his companion. Somehow Christ revealed that God loves us intimately with a love that nothing can ever quench. Resurrection is about God-given, life-giving, unconditional love—for you—that can never be defeated.

Gracious God, through Christ’s resurrection I am forever changed. I praise and thank you for your eternal, intimate love for me and for all your children. May I live in joy. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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